Happy Monday, my friends! As you can see, I call many people friends. As someone who was often a loner with few friends growing up; who was often excluded from friend groups, I try to include as many people as possible. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to work with members of the Religious Society of Friends—better known as the Quakers—many of who still practiced their faith in the silent meetings of their spiritual ancestors. One of their older traditions that these Pennsylvania Quakers still practiced was calling each other “friend” as a title and out of respect. Imagine communities where we each would call each other “friend?” Imagine the walls that could break down and the divisions that could be ceased.
It’s said that introverts, like me, find friends in one of three ways: we don’t find friends and live out our days as hermits; we randomly bump into other introverts and decide they’re not too bad; or, more likely, an extravert finds us and makes us a member of their group. While that saying is meant to be a joke, there is some truth to it. Think about your close friends and how you became friends with them. I have five people I’d consider to be my closest friends and who are not biological relatives. Two are former students, two I met through work, and one I met at church. Two of them are fraternity brothers as well as friends and those are the only two who know each other. Two of them have made it clear to me that they see me as both a friend and a mentor. One, I think considers me as close of a friend as I consider her. And one help me learn that it’s ok if your closest or “best” friends don’t consider you their closest friends.
I also recognize the difference between a general community of friends and close friends. Many of us delineate our friend groups by the times and places we became friends with them. We have our “childhood friends,” our “college friends,” or “friends from the church I went to when I lived in one place,” and our “friends from work when I worked at that place two jobs ago.” In this age of social media, we also have our “Facebook friends” some of whom we actually know and others who are mere online connections. I’ve noticed a recent increase in people asking their friends and colleagues to consider how we all use the word “friend.” Are their better words that we could use that more precisely convey our connections to people? For example, can our “work friends” be colleagues and can our “church friends” be “acquaintances?”
However we talk about our friends; however we find those friends, friends form an integral part of our support systems. We all need friends. At four years old, my nephew, Jack, can already name his two closest friends. They are three rambunctious and equally sweet little boys who might be friends for life or friends for a season, but even at their age they know how important friends are.
Who are your close friends? How did you find them? What do they mean to you?
Let us pray: God, you gave us friends to build us up and support us through the trials, chances, and the best and the worst times of our lives. Bless our friends, bless us as we strive to be good friends to others. But help us even more so to show up for our friends, to advocate for them, and to prove ourselves not simply fair-weather friends. We ask this through your son who call his apostles friends. Amen.
Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.